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Hip-Hop Culture and Black Feminisms

Often described as one of the most dominant cultural forces this world has seen, Hip-hop occupies a paradoxical space within the Western cultural imagination. It is positioned as both a bastion of incisive social, economic, and political criticism and a primary venue for misogyny, homophobia, hypermasculinity, and gross consumerism. In light of this paradoxical position, this course considers black feminist critiques of the abovementioned issues, traces the formation of “Hip-hop feminist” criticism, and interrogates issues central to Hip-hop feminism, including the representation and performance of race, class, gender and sexuality in Hip-hop; the pleasures, dangers, and contradictions inherent in a Hip-hop feminist politics; and the sexual economies produced by and within Hip-hop Culture (e.g., strip club culture, sex tape culture, and Hip-hop pornography), among other issues. Students will leave the course with a firm understanding of the histories of Hip-hop Culture, particularly music, film, and literature, black and Hip-hop feminisms, and performance in the contemporary U.S., as well as key concepts in studies of race and representation, black feminisms, black sexuality, and literary and cultural studies 

We will consider texts in a wide variety of mediums, including films such as My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip-hop, Pariah, and Straight Outta Compton, television episodes of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta and Empire, music videos by Nicki Minaj, Tink, and The Internet, music by Lil’ Kim and FKA Twigs, and fiction by Joan Morgan and Sister Souljah.

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